There’s a time and place for working on overcoming anxiety, and there’s a time and place for going easy on yourself. Let this post be your gentle reminder to practice the latter when you need it.
On that note, here are 14 ways to practice a little self-love if you struggle with anxiety. (And even if you don’t. You deserve self-love too, you functional adult, you.)
These ideas do not involve extensive interaction with other humans or lofty goals like going for a walk through your neighborhood–because that’s where the people are, and I don’t know about you, but if I am having a social anxiety flare-up, I need solutions that are low-stress.
I’m excited to hear what you think of the list.
Note: None of the links are affiliates or sponsors — just things I like.
#14: Read a book that soothes your trigger areas
Three areas I have experienced a lot of anxiety are perfectionism, pregnancy, and parenting. These books have made a world of difference to me:
- How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism by Stephen Guise (I linked the audio version here because that’s how I read it — I LOVE audiobooks in the car and during housework)
- Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster
- Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster (I adore Emily Oster’s data-backed approach to pregnancy and parenting! Data and stats are often a great anxiety antidote for me.)
Whatever you struggle with (body image? self-esteem? hair pulling?), there’s almost certainly a book that can help.
#13: Get super silly
My kids and I always get a ridiculous laugh out of the filters on Messenger. I highly recommend them.
Remember: You don’t have to actually send the video to anyone if you don’t want to.
#12: Remember your awesomeness
This only works if you’re not feeling like a total self-care rebel (à la “No, I will NOT do anything constructive for myself *foot stomp*). (It happens to the best of us…)
Try listing 3 things that you are quite sure are not-shit about yourself. For example, mine would be:
- I make people laugh sometimes.
- I have the power to create other human beings.
- My hot chocolate is my husband’s favourite.
#11: Reach out
If you’re not feeling TOO far gone into hermit mode, it can be nice to connect lightly, gently, quietly with another human, even if all you can manage is a heart emoji by text message. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get the ball rolling.
Actually, with one friend, we use the heart emoji as my code for “I see your message and I’m thinking of you, but I’m too caught up in anxiety right now to engage.” (A friend who will do that for you is GOLD.)
Related reading: 💜 To the Friends of Those With Social Anxiety 💜
#10: Reach in
Basically this comes down to self-compassion.
Just give yourself an inner pat on the back.
Sometimes I (silently) tell myself things like, “You’ll get through this.” or “You feel anxious, and that’s okay.”
#9: Get warm
I learned this from a podcast episode by The Savvy Psychologist on 4 Surprising Ways Depression Affects Your Body (bold emphasis is my own):
A recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study gave depressed participants just one session of whole-body heat treatment using infrared heat. The study showed that, even a whole week later, participants who received the heat treatment experienced less depressive symptoms than those who got a sham treatment without heat.
So, if you struggle with depression, one inexpensive way to give yourself some relief may be to take a hot bath or do some hot yoga.From 4 Surprising Ways Depression Affects Your Body
Here are four ways I use heat:
- I like to take a bath after therapy, when I’m most drained.
- I lie on a heating pad for a few minutes at bedtime every night. It helps me sleep and relax. (Actually, I just bought a replacement pad because the one my mom-in-law gave me finally died. THAT was a sad day.)
- I have a microwaveable rice bag that my friend made for me years ago.
- I ingest much tea (more on tea below).
#8: Do an anxiety meditation
I don’t meditate much. (I have this bad habit of resisting things that are “obvious” methods of self-care. I don’t know why… something something self-sabotage, maybe?)
But anyway, when I really need help stopping the thought-vortex, meditation is occasionally what I turn to, whether it’s for morning encouragement, mid-day relief, or sleep help.
I’ve been meaning to try Headspace, but for now I use the Insight Timer app’s free collection. They have a whole collection for anxiety specifically.
My favourite teacher is Aluna Moon because of her soothing voice and the fact that a lot of her content is short and also caters to my mom angst:
I also like her Peaceful Sleep Meditation.
#7: Listen to a podcast
Podcasts are great for keeping my mind from going to blah and meh places, especially when I’m doing busywork but my mind is not occupied (and therefore free to spiral).
Here are two of my go-tos:
- The Savvy Psychologist (mentioned earlier): Check out her episode on How to Avoid Common Thinking Traps.
- The Minimalists: Check out Episode 142 on Anxiety.
#6: Make it dark
This might just be me, but darkness is like a cocoon when the world feels a little too big.
I love taking a shower in the dark after the kids go to bed (bonus: heat therapy!).
#5: Normalize your body
If you experience body-related anxiety or insecurities like me (I learned that this is fairly common for those of us with social anxiety), one thing to try is to hop on Instagram and see the bad-ass content creators on there who are working to normalize all bodies and encourage healthier relationships with ourselves.
Some of my faves:
- @thebodypositiveparent (Jen just did a re-brand and she also has a new blog called The Body Positive Parent! Check her out!)
There are so many more. I could write a whole post on my favourite accounts and the uplifting work they’re doing.
And if you need a little extra love, check out my post You (Yes, You) Are Beautiful. xoxo
Hunger + Anxiety = Hanxiety (Hanger 2.0).
I once cried the whole way to my favourite local Mexican restaurant because I was afraid it would be closed and I wouldn’t get my enchilada platter. (I was very pregnant and it was my birthday and we were running late.)
It was not closed. I got my enchiladas.
Moral: Pregnant, anxious, and hungry do NOT mix.
Just eat if your body needs to eat.
Tea is warm and soothing and smells nice and it is a truth universally acknowledged that a tea-lover in possession of a kettle must be in want of a mug. Or… something.
My favourites at the moment:
Ideally something funny. Like this:
I challenge you to draw a bumblebee ninja.
You will not be able to beat this rendition by a friend who shall remain nameless–unless she chooses to out herself as the bee-ninja artist she is–but your attempts will probably entertain you and anyone you show:
#1. And the ultimate way to love your socially anxious self…
Wait for it…
Think about it:
No partner = No performance anxiety.
(It’s a little more nuanced than that, as you might expect. Anxiety is rarely straight-forward. Read more here.)
There you have it!
Soooo… Would you try any of these ideas? Am I going to get to see some bumblebee ninjas? I will 100% accept bumblebee ninjas in my email inbox (blushygingersadie [at] gmail.com) or on Instagram or Facebook!
Go love your fabulous self in the way you like best!
And I’d be tickled pink if you’d consider sharing this with someone who could use a little pick-me-up today. xoxoxoxo
P.S. Word of loving advice from someone who does this very thing: Try not to let yourself get anxious at the thought of having to try ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW. Pick and choose, or come up with your own idea(s). Just go easy on yourself. 🙂